Field preparation for spring planting in Delta. Federal and provincial insurance and relief programs are available for major crop losses. (Black Press files)

B.C. boosts disaster fund for farmers suffering crop losses

Extra $9 million allows increased payouts for weather, fires

The B.C. government is increasing its relief fund to provide additional money to farmers who lose crops due to natural disasters.

Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said Thursday the province is putting an additional $9 million into its AgriStability Enhancement Program, B.C.’s supplement to the federal AgriStability fund for disasters such as wildfire, weather damage and commodity market crashes causing financial losses.

“We are increasing the compensation rate from 70 to 80 per cent, which means that every payment in 2019 and 2020 from AgriStability will be increased by 14.3 per cent,” Popham said in a statement. “Whether it be wildfires, army worms, devastating weather conditions for grain or extreme market-price fluctuations, we are making changes to better help farmers when they most need it.”

RELATED: $20M fund offered to ranchers after 2017 wildfires

The B.C. program has been based on revenue declines of 15 to 20 per cent, based on the financial history of each farm. Popham said the “reference margin limit” has been eliminated to provide better protection.

“B.C. farmers already participating in AgriStability will automatically receive the increased protection,” the ministry says. “Those who are not participating can still enrol for 2020. There are no additional enrolment requirements beyond what is normally required to participate.”

Fall of 2019 was a bad one for grain farmers in northeast B.C., with early snowfall that delayed or prevented harvest across the Peace region. Cattle producers saw low prices that were mostly covered by policies purchased from the Western Livestock Price Insurance Program, Popham said last fall.


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tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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